The Garden City - British Homes Awards Housing Competition
Our vision of a higher density garden city is to create a place that is, in all senses, a very green
place in which to live. It is essential that such a city should be people focused offering
wonderful, light-filled places to live, whilst being car tolerant.
We have called our home a Garden Villa, as we feel the word villa conveys more of the spirit
and idea of a home within a landscape.
Our villa has been turned upside down from that of a normal house. The villas are designed
around the best spaces to live and the nicest places to sit out: it is a simple concept. We have
taken this idea and applied it on a wider, urban scale to create our vision for the garden city.
The garden city will be made up of a series of neighbourhoods each organised around a
central landscaped space. These public spaces would be more social gathering spaces to
play, have an evening walk and catch up with friends. They would form the hub around which
our Garden Villas would be gathered.
The Garden Villa
The standard villa has been designed to be loose fit and easily adaptable for different ways of
living and for the way you want to live. Consequently, we have designed the standard villa plan
to the maximum allowable plot width within the brief of 9.5m. This helps facilitate the planning
of the entrance spaces, garage and rooms above by allowing sufficient space to afford a
degree of flexibility within the dwelling.
The living space is located on the top floor of the villa. This is where the best light and views
are found and has easy access to the garden roof which will benefit from all day sun.
We have also put forward a more conventional pitched roof option. The living room would still
be located on the top floor to take advantage of the volume that would traditionally have been
loft space and also enjoy a terrace on that level.
By moving the living space away from the ground floor, you free up the foot print for a more
generous entrance with space for good storage and a place to park a pushchair without it
getting in the way. The bedroom / study on the ground floor can be separated from the main
living spaces above for home office working. There is also the option for the inclusion of a
winter garden at ground floor.
Bins and bikes are stored in a larger than average garage, giving future flexibility and the
possible adaptation for disabled parking. The entrance to the house is set back from the street
by 1.5m and forms part of the defensible space strategy.
Gardens and external spaces, where one can sit and enjoy the world, are very important to the
pleasure of any home. We have therefore designed the gardens to be large enough, but not too
large, and able to include a winter garden without compromising the garden space. The garden
also provides the soft buffer between houses: it manages the sense of overlooking; enclosure;
and, provides sufficient distance between neighbours.
With more dense living, the roof becomes a major asset. It is not over shadowed by
neighbouring houses or trees. As the brief is to design a ‘Garden City’, it seemed appropriate
that the standard villa should have layers of external space that can be used in different ways
during different times of the day and year.
In our view, key to the success of any reasonably high density neighbourhood, is the making
and forming of very high quality public space to encourage children to play outside in an
environment in which they feel safe and can simply enjoy. We feel that this can be achieved by
organising the villas around a central communal space and by controlling car movement and
Density and Car Management
Our proposal achieves a density in excess of 40 dwellings a hectare (as per the brief). It is
based around the combination of semi-detached and terraced villas. The houses are grouped
and combined together to make mini blocks that are organised around a central pedestrian
priority friendly space.
This central public space has one-way traffic. Two-way traffic is kept orbiting around the larger
Each property has an integral garage. To meet the overall level of parking stated within the
brief, we have integrated the additional parking and visitor parking into the overall design of the
A scheme of this density should encourage the use of other forms of transport - car sharing
schemes – maybe even walking! This would influence the parking utilisation factor and
therefore the overall number of cars required to be parked.
Our scheme would be designed to the equivalent of code for sustainability level four as a
minimum. It would include the Viessmann domestic fuel cell mCHP boiler and smart metering
as per the brief.
Our Standard Garden Villa takes into account most likely events. We have also allowed for a
disabled lift to be easily added to the outside of the building.
The Style Police
Architecture is a broad church; one person’s love of a Corbusier villa is another person’s
modernist hell. The H+H block system is a very simple build. It can be rendered or clad
externally to allow for the adoption of local materials. This gives a lot of freedom to style the
standard villa and to respond to the taste and aspiration of any target market; from first time
buyer through to third age living.
Low Cost Simple Construction
The villas will be constructed from the H+H block system. It is low cost simple construction.
The budget will therefore be managed by the blending of external and internal finishes and the
overall level of specification.
Architecs: Emrys Architects